Farid Mammadov won Azerbaijan’s National Final with “Hold Me,” which is a really generic, completely boring Eurovision ballad. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s there. Mammadov is a good-looking guy and a good singer, and it’s Azerbaijan, so you assume they’ll spend money to make it look good at the Final. (Because they sure as heck didn’t spend money on that national final. As you can see in the video above, the audio mix was so bad that even the good singers sounded harsh.)
Some countries you don’t expect much out of, but Azerbaijan has gone for the brass ring so much since it first entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 that you kind of expect more out of it. Maybe the millions of dollars it spent on hosting Eurovision (and on staging previous entries) and the scrutiny it faced over its human rights records have made it a little gun-shy about drawing attention to itself with a stand-out Eurovision entry? Or, judging from what we saw on Friday night, no one gave them any good songs to perform.
The thing is, Mammadov is really charismatic, and he might just be the break-out male singer in the second Semi (also features Gianluca Bezzina from Malta, Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson from Iceland, Lozano from FYR Macedonia, ByeAlex from Hungary, Gor Sujya from Armenia, and of course, Cezar from Romaina). If ever there was a case of a performer being better than the song, this is it, so it’s hard for us to call how well he’s going to do. But as always, you count Azerbaijan out at your peril.